Impromptus

Up with humans, &c.

by Jay Nordlinger

A reader has sent me a quite interesting article. A journalist named Aswini Anburajan has declared Senator Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican, a “LINO.” That stands for “Latino in Name Only.”

Huh. I guess Ms. Anburajan — or is it Señora? — thinks that, in order to be a Latino, you have to be a leftist in the fashion of La Raza, or The Race. What Cruz is, actually, is a person: and a conservative, and an American, and a man with a lot to offer.

I’m not sure that Señora Anburajan is a Latina, but if she is, she’s not a wise one.

I like it when people aren’t professional Latinos, professional blacks, professional gays, or whatever. I like it when they’re human beings first. I have noticed something about Bret Easton Ellis, the famous novelist: He’s a human being.

Recently, he has attacked “the gatekeepers of politically correct gayness.” Of course, the gatekeepers have attacked back. They have accused Ellis of being a “self-loathing gay man” — to which he has responded, “I might be a little self-loathing at times . . . but it’s not because I’m gay.” (For an article on the Ellis wars, go here.)

Is that sort of thinking still allowed in America? Apparently so, and refreshing it is.

I’ll tell you a strange fact about the world: When white people want to insult black people, they bring up fried chicken. What the hell?

At the 1997 Masters tournament, Fuzzy Zoeller made a crack about Tiger Woods and fried chicken. In the last couple of weeks, Sergio Garcia did the same thing. You can say a lot about Tiger Woods, or against him. You can talk about his treatment of his wife and family. But fried chicken?

How strange that this food of the gods should have become a racist cudgel.

Alice Walker is one of our most famous writers. She has been a heroine in America since 1982, when she published The Color Purple. The book won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. It was later made into a movie and a musical.

But, um, is the author meshugge?

A short while ago, she was a guest on the BBC’s Desert Island Discs, the show on which “castaways” tell what recordings they would take to a desert island. They also name a book — and Walker named Human Race, Get Off Your Knees: The Lion Sleeps Tonight. This book is by David Icke, a conspiracy theorist who believes that a reptilian class rules the world, and always has. He is a believer in that infamous hoax, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He wrote recently, “The Zionists want to control the world, their karma is to fail and destroy themselves.”

To that desert island, Walker would do better to take The Color Purple.

I learned about this affair, by the way, from Damian Thompson, here. And I have spent a little time on the Desert Island Discs website. The archive gives you “castaways” down the decades, telling what their choices are. You can search under castaway, music, book, anything.

It is huge fun (if you like this sort of thing).

Speaking of Britain, I was moved by an article from the pen of Graeme Archer, a Telegraph writer (like Thompson). He talked about why he is a Conservative. If I were British, I’d be a Conservative too — though one often grousing about his party.

Just like home, huh?

Archer writes, “. . . we join the party because we hate socialism, with a passion several notches higher than that of the average citizen. The Tory party is a machine with many purposes, but its principal objective is defined by its negative. Stop socialism.”

Now, I admire UKIP, the U.K. Independence Party. I think Britain’s relationship with Brussels has been harmful to Britain and to democracy. Malcolm Pearson, the former leader of UKIP, is one of the loveliest men I’ve ever met in my entire life. You will get similar testimony from virtually everyone else who knows him.

I love seeing pictures of the current leader, Nigel Farage. He is always smiling, always ebullient. “The politics of joy” (a Humphrey phrase) is written on his face.

But I must say, I have come to regard UKIP with worry, and even fear. Why do they exist? They have had a salutary effect on the Conservative party, which has moved on Europe. The prime minister, David Cameron, has promised a referendum on the question. This was unthinkable until very recently.

To grasp the importance — the momentousness — of the referendum, read Daniel Hannan, whose archive is here. Hannan is the Conservative writer and intellectual who sits in the European Parliament (and who cruises with National Review — the prime distinction of his life, certainly).

From what I know, UKIP has no hope of governing from No. 10. So what can Farage & Co. do? They can upend the Conservatives and deliver a Labour government — a government of Ed Miliband, a socialist who might make us pine for Brown. The Ukippers could play a Perotista role, only with more devastating effect.

What I most object to — and, indeed, resent — is the imputation that there is really nothing to choose from between the Conservatives and the Labourites. The parties are merely Tweedledee and Tweedledum. You hear this in America too — “the Republicrats.” I think this is bunk, in both cases.

David Cameron is not a prime minister of Thatcherites’ dreams. But he is certainly a fellow-traveler of Thatcherism, working within the restraints of a coalition government. (The Tories don’t have a free hand; they govern with the Lib Dems.) And there are certainly Thatcherites in his cabinet, doing yeoman work.

Think merely of Michael Gove, the education secretary, who is just about the most valuable man in English-speaking politics. Think also of Iain Duncan Smith, the welfare reformer. These men are doing very hard things, in the face of all the fearsome powers of the Status Quo.

Do you think there’s no difference between the Labourites, on one side, and Gove and IDS on the other? No difference between the Labourites and Cameron, at whose pleasure those guys serve? Ask the Labourites — go ahead. Then ask the BBC, the Guardian, the universities . . .

My hope is that the good people of UKIP aren’t too intoxicated by their recent popularity — and that they don’t despise the Conservatives more than they despise the EU or Labour. If their goal is to wreck the Conservatives, come what may, they need a better goal.

Let me quote Graeme Archer again: “Learning that you can’t get everything you want in this life is hard; perhaps a lesson not learned by those members of Ukip, with their infantile name-calling of the Prime Minister.”

I also find the whole question of class in British politics nauseating — as I find class everywhere nauseating. More Archer, please: “If you think that Ed Miliband is a price worth paying, in order that you can be ‘true’ to your prejudice about Eton or whatever other ‘principle’ motivates you, then you may indeed be Right-wing.” But that does not make you a conservative.

In a democracy, anyone should have the right to run for office, and any group should have the right to organize into a political party. Emotionally, I’m with UKIP, pretty much. I’m sick of seeing sovereignty leaked to Brussels. I love the smile on Farage’s face. I understand why Lord Pearson left the Conservative party, and, for all I know, I might have left with him.

But if UKIP delivers a Labour government — that would be a huge disservice to all.

Joe McCarthy used to say, “I hold in my hand a photostatic copy . . .” Well, I hold in my hand — or have on my desk — a Xeroxed copy of the forthcoming National Review. I see that it contains a piece on UKIP by Mark Steyn. I will read the issue on a long flight, or a couple of them, in the next few days.

I have a feeling Mark is more sanguine about UKIP than I am. And I’m prepared to listen to him, of course. Mark can have a powerful effect. If your name is Sam and Mark says, “Actually, your name is Hezekiah,” you might well think, “Well, I was pretty sure it was Sam, but . . .”

Incidentally, the Desert Island Discs website tells me Mark has never been on the show. Guesting aside, he should host the son-of-a-gun.

I want to tell you about a project — a project of my friend Fred Fransen, who’s an education guru (among other things). Put it this way: If Fred ran our schools, K through Ph.D., the planet would levitate. He is spearheading a project to send a used schoolbus to Accra, Ghana, “filled to the brim with school materials.” Check it out, here.

The project may sound a little flaky, I grant you. But Fred’s about the least flaky guy you ever met. Commonsensical Midwesterner. Conservative intellectual. Ph.D. from the Committee on Social Thought at Chicago. I could go on . . .

I’ve kept you long enough. Care for some music, for the road, so to speak? For a piece on the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and its music director, Leonard Slatkin, go here. I have a music piece in the new NR as well: It’s about James Levine, and his “comeback concert” at Carnegie Hall. (Dogged by health problems, he hadn’t conducted in two years.)

In addition, I have a piece on three people who have lived astoundingly brave lives: Chen Guangcheng, the “blind peasant lawyer” from China; Ali Ferzat, the cartoonist from Syria; and Berta Soler, the leader of the Ladies in White in Cuba. They walk into danger, while others walk, or run, away. Meanwhile, I’m helping myself to another brownie.

See you!